On Thursday, Nov. 9 and Sunday, Nov. 12, 36 European national teams played their first two games of the EuroBasket Women 2025 Qualifiers.
And while the contests provided some information about the shape each country’s best players are in, things might look very different during the second and third windows. The next two of the six qualifying games each team will play will take place a year from now, in early November 2024; the last two will be played in February of 2025.
Which results got you excited?— FIBA Women's EuroBasket (@EuroBasketWomen) November 12, 2023
See you next year, as we close the book on the first window of the #EuroBasketWomen 2025 Qualifiers!
And don't forget to check out the review below
Out of the 36 teams, 16 will appear in the EuroBasket Women 2025 competition, although only 12 are fighting to qualify for the final round. That is because four host countries have been bundled together in one group, Group I. So, Italy, Germany, Greece and Czechia are playing only to improve their spots in the world rankings. As for the other 32 hopefuls, only the best teams from Groups A through H will play in the final tournament. They will be joined by four second-place teams from the same groups.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the basketball.
The biggest surprise was the performance of the smallest country in the competition. Luxembourg, the size of 998 square miles and the population of around 662,000, beat Switzerland and Bosnia and Herzegovina in Group H. While numerous players contributed to that success, the one that stood out most was power forward Faith Ehi Etute, who, at just 18 years old, is not only starting for her national team, but also is top-15 overall in points (18.5) and rebounds (13) in the qualifying games. Just a couple of months ago, she played against her more youthful peers. But, seeing how dominant she was, it was only right to give her a try on the biggest of stages. Below you can see highlights from Etute’s performance against the U18 Romanian national team. (Yes, that statline is from one game.)
Even though the Polish national team is 1-1 in Group C, it delivered the biggest surprise of the first day of competition by defeating the defending European champions, Belgium. That win came in large part thanks to Stephanie Mavunga, who made her official debut for Poland and posted 21 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. In their second game, Poland was shockingly close to beating Lithuania, but lost in overtime. Still, the fact that they held the lead for most of the contest against EuroBasket regulars shows that this team has lots of potential and may cause more surprises.
Quick...name an European basketball powerhouse. Chances are it hasn’t yet lost a game in the competition. Spain in Group A? 2-0. Hungary in Group B? 2-0. France in Group E? 2-0. Serbia in Group G? 2-0. Italy in Group I? Ditto.
All five countries got off to hot starts. But instead of praising their veteran players, like Serbian center Tina Krajišnik (16.5 points, 10.5 rebounds), let’s look at the rosters from a WNBA-perspective. Speaking of Serbians, their backcourt is lead by American-born Yvonne Anderson (14 points and 4 assists), who we recently chatted with about her experience representing the Serbian national team.
Spain and France do not rely on naturalized players. Nor do their rosters feature players who have established a foothold in the best league in the world. They have some potential future WNBA stars though, like the 22-year-old French playmaker Marine Fauthoux (10.5 points, 5.5 assists), or players who might one day return to the WNBA, like her Spanish counterpart Maite Cazorla (23rd pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft, 6 points, 4 rebounds). Speaking of talented point guards, what about Italy’s Matilde Villa (13.5 points, 3.5 assists), who, at 18, is the lead ball handler for one of the best teams on the continent?
As for Hungary, the Minnesota Lynx’s Dorka Juhász finally made her official national team debut. The 6-foot-4 big, who also plays for Beretta Famila Schio in the EuroLeague, showed why she is among the best young players in Europe. While she is not yet the leader of her national team, her averages of 9.0 points and 7.5 rebounds indicate she is a serious talent.
The best of the rest
Nyara Sabally, the fifth pick by the New York Liberty in the 2022 WNBA Draft, made her debut for Germany, which finished 1-1 in Group I. The former Oregon Duck joined her older sister and Dallas Wings star, Satou, in the frontcourt of their national team and averaged 14.5 points and 11 rebounds in her first two official games. Satou is the German’s best scorer, averaging 16 points per game. Satou’s Dallas teammate Awak Kuier, the second pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft, averaged 22 points and 10.5 rebounds in the first two games of the competition for Finland, which is 1-1 in Group B behind Hungary.
Former Maryland Terrapin Brianna Fraser made her debut for Azerbaijan. The American-born forward, currently playing for Polkowice in the EuroLeague, averaged 14 points and 4.5 rebounds in the first two games. That did not amount to much though, as her team lost both games in Group C. The second loss was especially painful, as Belgium, coming off a surprising loss to Poland, took its frustration out on Azerbaijan and won 136-28.